The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


The Meg

Advertising for The Meg makes it quite clear what the movie is -- two hours of Jason Statham fighting a giant shark. What do you want from a movie like that? Insane, over-the-top action? Crazy shark attacks? Statham exuding no-nonsense machismo? Those are certainly things that I want from such a picture. Happily, The Meg delivers on all counts. It's never going to win an Oscar -- unless the Academy starts giving out awards for Best Picture Where Jason Statham Fights a Shark -- but if you're looking for some enjoyably bonkers summer-themed fun, here it is.

The story is centered around a high-tech underwater research facility. Several crew members have taken a submersible to previously-unexplored depths of the ocean. While down there, something hits and damages their sub, leaving them stranded. Expert deep-sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Statham) is called in to save the group. The culprit turns out to be a Megalodon, a prehistoric 75-foot shark long thought to be extinct. Jonas is successful in his rescue, but the shark follows everyone back to the surface, where it of course ends up creating destruction. Jonas leads the charge to kill the thing before it reaches the mainland.

Rainn Wilson co-stars as the billionaire funder of the facility, Ruby Rose is one of its designers, and Li Bingbing is an oceanographer who finds herself attracted to Jonas.

There's a lot of plot in The Meg, much of it rushed through. Things happen pretty quickly, so you have to be willing to accept that the movie isn't going to take the time to get places naturally. Saying it often seems in a rush would not be inaccurate. Same goes for the character development. It's here, but perfunctory and not a priority.

What is a priority? The action, obviously. After a slightly slow start, The Meg settles into the business at hand, growing crazier and crazier the longer it goes on. Sometimes it takes standard shark attack movie cliches -- like someone being trapped in a cage -- and puts a fresh spin on them. Other times, it amps up those cliches, as in a climactic Megalodon assault on an inordinately crowded beach. And if you think Statham fights the shark from a distance using high-tech weapons, think again. Several scenes have him getting right up in the creature's face and giving it the business.

Directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure), The Meg makes excuses for neither its exaggerated action nor its self-aware sense of humor. There is no other purpose but to provide a thrill-a-minute ride, the kind that encourages you to sit back, much your popcorn, sip your soda, and take a load off your mind. Movies aiming to do this are a dime a dozen. Some of them are very bad. The Meg does what it wants to do well, with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, and with a spirit of fun that proves contagious.

I'm a sucker for shark attack movies, so I smiled and giggled with delight throughout. If spending two hours watching Jason Statham fight a shark sounds like a good time to you, then you're probably going to enjoy The Meg. It is what it is, and in this case, that's good enough.

( out of four)

Blu-ray Features:

The Meg arrives on 4K UHD combo pack, Blu-ray, and DVD on November 13. A complimentary copy of the Blu-ray was provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for review purposes.

There are two bonus features included on the disc, totaling about twenty-three minutes. "Creating the Beast" looks at the design of the Megalodon. As director Jon Turteltaub points out, no one knows for sure what one looked like. The filmmakers therefore had to imagine based on what little information they had. On the plus side, this allowed for some creativity. One of the most notable qualities is that the film's Meg has more fins than a regular shark. The director says every effort was made to give viewers something they hadn't seen in a dozen other shark attack pictures.

"Chomp On This: The Making of The Meg" is a slickly-produced behind-the-scenes featurette that includes interviews with cast and crew members. The challenges of shooting in water -- and putting all the necessary safety precautions in place -- is a prime focus of this segment. This a nice, albeit short look at how the movie was made.

The sound mix on the Blu-ray is particularly impressive. It will give your surround sound system a good workout.

The Meg is rated PG-13 for action/peril, bloody images and some language. The running time is 1 hour and 53 minutes.

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